A few months ago, I had a conversation with a dedicated cocktail maven who was bemoaning the fact that the Pineapple Julep, a widely popular drink in the 1800s, was not being offered at any of the new cocktail bars. It should be resurrected, he argued.
Somebody must have been listening in on our exchange, because a few weeks later I started to notice the Pineapple Julep popping up on menus from New York to Chicago to San Francisco. It had been thoroughly rescued.
That got me to thinking: In a revivified cocktail landscape—where orders for the once-unknown Boulevardier are nearly as common as those for Negronis; where one-time provincial New Orleans drinks like the Vieux Carre and De La Louisiane are drunk from Portland, OR, to Portland, ME; where the Remember the Maine, a Charles H. Baker Jr. creation that until recently was familiar only to Baker’s daughter, is greeted by a yawn by the bartender—what other forgotten cocktails are there left to revive? Drinks that are worth reviving, I mean. Drinks that actually taste good and don’t deserve their plot in the cocktail graveyard.
Quite a few, it turns out. We asked a selection of skilled bartenders from across the United States what bygone refreshments they’d like to see get the Last Word treatment—that is, taken from utter obscurity to wide enjoyment, as that gin-maraschino liqueur-Chartreuse-lime juice mixture was a few years back. Here are the cocktails they think deserve a revival, with recipes so that you can make them at home until your local speakeasy catches up.
CORPSE REVIVER #1 (Jackson Cannon)
The Corpse Reviver #2 is one of the prime second-act successes of the cocktail renaissance. There isn’t a respectable cocktail joint in the 50 states that doesn’t now know how to make this delicious gin-based drink drawn from the Savoy Cocktail Book. But what of the still-neglected Corpse Reviver #1, which gets next to no mixologist love? Jackson Cannon of Boston’s Eastern Standard and The Hawthorne thinks it is undeservedly overshadowed by its younger brother.
“I love this drink,” said Cannon, “but I don’t adhere to the Savoy version, which is basically two parts cognac, one part Calvados, and one part sweet vermouth. I think of this as a two-parts-to-one-part Manhattan variation with the two parts split between Cognac and Calvados. I also like to use the smallest amount—just a few drops—of bitters to pull the flavors together. The result is a very delicate balance between stone fruit, wood, wine and bitter herbs.”
Recipe: Corpse Reviver #1
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 ounce Daron Calvados
1 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
3 drops Angostura bitters
Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied cherry.
DANDY COCKTAIL (Erik Ellestad)
One thing this archeological exercise proved is that bartenders remain faithful to the Savoy Cocktail Book, which was published in 1930 by London barman Harry Craddock. Four of the seven cocktails nominated for wider fame came from the influential volume—including the Dandy Cocktail. This is the recommendation of Erik Ellestad, who has spent a good chunk of career studying the manual. (He’s the author of the Savoy Stomp blog, in which he picks his way through the book, one drink at a time.)
“One Savoy cocktail I haven’t seen around a lot is the Dandy Cocktail,” he said. “It’s a 50-50 Manhattan made with the red wine-based aperitif Dubonnet Rouge instead of the usual Italian Vermouth. As with any 50-50 type drink, using a higher proof spirit helps increase the presence of the whiskey, so I suggest that. Also, it doesn’t hurt to experiment with other red wine-based aperitif: Byrrh, Lillet Rouge, Vergano Americano, Barolo Chinato, etc.,” in place of the Dubonnet.
Recipe: Dandy Cocktail
1½ ounces rye whiskey
1½ ounces Dubonnet Rouge
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon Cointreau
1 piece orange peel
1 piece lemon peel
Measure ingredients into mixing glass, express peels, and drop in. Fill with ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve without a garnish.
WARDAY’S COCKTAIL (Eryn Reece)
Eryn Reece, head bartender of New York’s Death & Co., also discovered lost gold in the pages of the Savoy. The cocktail she’d like to see ordered by more patrons is an herbaceous, yet elegant blend of gin, Calvados, sweet vermouth, and Chartreuse.
“One that I think is awesome and doesn’t get any love is the Warday’s cocktail,” she said. “It’s delicious and offers a nice transition from late summer to fall. I really love the blend of the botanicals from the gin and the elegant blend of citrus and apple from the Calvados.” Reece put her money where her mouth is; the drink currently enjoys a place on the Death & Co. menu. (She makes it with yellow Chartreuse, rather than the traditional green, and ups the quotient of gin and Calvados.)
Recipe: Warday’s Cocktail
1 ounce Beefeater gin
1 ounce Busnel Calvados
¾ ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
¼ ounce Yellow Chartreuse
Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail coupe. Express a lemon peel over the drink, then discard.
SELF-STARTER COCKTAIL (Jamie Boudreau)
Another Craddock relic, the Self-Starter Cocktail, has had a tough time getting a jump-start in modern drink circles. That, says Jamie Boudreau, owner of Seattle’s Canon, is a shame.
“This is an elegant drink that plays well in all seasons,” he explained. “It’s delicate and light enough—despite the lack of citrus—for the summer, yet complex enough to be enjoyed in the winter, where the lack of citrus helps. All ingredients are easily found, but I do have to say that the key ingredient is the apricot liqueur. Ensure you find an amazing one as it will make all the difference in the world. I’m partial to Giffard’s.”
Recipe: Self-Starter Cocktail
1½ ounces gin
¾ ounce Lillet blanc
¼ ounce Giffard apricot liqueur
Stir all ingredients, except absinthe, in an ice-filled mixing glass. Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with absinthe. Strain contents of mixing glass into the absinthe-rinsed glass
HORSEFEATHER (Ryan Maybee)
Chances are, unless you live in Kansas or thereabouts, you’ve never heard of this simple high ball, which is made of rye whiskey, ginger beer, lemon juice, and bitters. According to Kansas City bartender Ryan Maybee (Manifesto), “The Horsefeather is a modern classic that appears to have been developed in the Kansas City and Lawrence, KS area about 20 years ago. Some recipes call for rye whiskey, others for blended whiskey. It’s a tall, refreshing riff on a Horse’s Neck, with bold, spicy flavors. One thing I love about this drink is how easy it is to turn a vodka drinker onto a whiskey cocktail. If you’ve had a Moscow Mule, this is a perfect next step.”
1½ ounces Rye or Blended Whiskey
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Squeeze of lemon
Build in Collins glass over ice. Add a squeeze of lemon over the top.
ADONIS (Abigail Gullo)
This simple mix of sherry and vermouth arguably doesn’t belong on this list. It is a demi-classic of a kind, and—amid the current sherry revival in bars—is winning increased traction among mixologists and drinkers. That said, I still rarely see it on cocktail lists. And recently an order of an Adonis from a knowledgable bartender won me a blank stare. So I’m giving it the nod for inclusion in this story.
The suggestion comes from Abigail Gullo of New Orleans’ Sobou bar and restaurant. “I am a big fan of the Adonis,” she said. “I know sherry cocktails have been having a moment for a while, but the clean simplicity of the half-and-half mix of sweet vermouth with fino sherry and orange bitters is so elegant and sexy. I mean how sexy is it to say, ‘I’ll have an Adonis’? I think it’s the sexiest thing any guy could order from me as well.”
1½ ounces fino sherry
1½ ounces sweet vermouth
Two dash of orange bitters
Stir ingredients in mixing glass; serve up in a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a twist of lemon.
CAMERON’S KICK (Robert Simonson)
This wonderful cocktail was first printed in Harry McElhone’s “ABC of Mixing Cocktails” in 1922. McElhone was the barman and owner of Harry’s New York Bar, the famed Paris expatriate watering hole, during Prohibition and beyond. Many famous cocktails have been credited to the bar. Cameron’s Kick is not one of them. But it ought to be better known than it is (that is to say, known at all).
What we have here is basically a Whiskey Sour, set apart by a mix of blended Scotch and Irish whiskey and, more significantly, orgeat as the sweetener. Orgeat (almond syrup) is a magical elixir. It can transport a simple recipe into a more exotic realm. Typically associated with tiki drinks (it’s a key ingredient in the Mai Tai), it’s rarely employed otherwise. This is one of the more felicitous applications of it I’ve ever encountered, and a lot simpler to construct than any Polynesian concoction. (Other light-bodied blended Scotches and Irish whiskeys work within the template as well, so play around with the brands if you like. You can also reduce the amount of lemon juice to ½ ounce if you find the result too tart.)
Recipe: Cameron’s Kick
1 oz. Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
1 oz. Kilbeggen Irish Whiskey
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. Tiki Adam’s Orgeat syrup
Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled coupe. No garnish.
Robert Simonson writes about bars, cocktails and spirits for the New York Times. His book, The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, was published by Ten Speed in May.